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Old 07-07-2012, 09:20 PM   #1 
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Exclamation New Betta Mom Needs SERIOUS Help!! Very sick Betta, I think time is running out...

Hello - I found this website after doing a serious amount of research for my poor little rescued Betta whom I named Vegas. (In loving memory of the last fish I had when I was all of 9 years old, a gold fish - that was actually silver, named Nevada.)

For starters, I am not a fish person (or wasn't really until I met this little guy!) I have 4 cats, so a fish in the home sounded kinda crazy to me... But when someone came to my door with him and said he'd been abandoned, I took him in. His living conditions were less than what I considered proper - a plastic UTZ Pretzel container with all of 3 1/2 maybe 4 inches of water. It was filthy, it was foggy.

So I'm going to go over every detail of what I have done and what has occurred. Please bare with me, I think this guys life is at stake.

I went out and bought a 3 gallon acrylic tank, a small filter, a heater, some betta food (New Life Spectrum Betta Formula Semi-Floating Pellets), Top Fin Betta Water Conditioner, and a book on Betta's.

I pretty much figured out right away that Petco, PetSmart, and my local fish store were not going to be any help to me at all. The managers at both big chains told me to put him in a tiny bowl with a plant and he'd thrive. The manager at the local fish store said that anything bigger than a 1 gallon bowl might shock and kill the Betta, also that they prefer cold water so I don't need a heater. Ugh!

I read the book from cover to cover, fixed up the tank with fresh water (conditioned), set up the filter, set the heat to stay between 79 and 81 degrees and even though the book said to let the tank cycle I had no choice but to put the guy in 24 hours later. For one, the water in the UTZ container smelled really fowl, secondly there wasn't a lid on the container and my cats where pretty curious about this new found family member. So for his safety, I took the chance.

Initially he thrived, he was swimming around and was super interactive. I was feeding him 3 pellets of food in the am. He came up to me whenever I walked over and hung out in the corner where he could see me cooking in the kitchen. I think he was blowing bubble nests (which I read is a sign of happiness?!)I know this is getting long, so I'm going to jump ahead about 2 weeks.

I started to feel kinda bad for this guy swimming in circles and seeming so lonely and bored. My boyfriend suggested maybe giving him a bigger tank to have more room to swim around. So I bought a 10 gallon tank, and did the same deal filling it with conditioned water, heating it to the right temp, etc. I once again got a little ahead of myself and put him in this tank after about 24hrs of letting the filter run. This time simply because I was excited about his new home and wanted him to get in their and enjoy that space.

Let me give you all info on the new tank:
10 gallon glass tank with a film placed on the outside of the tank to block light from the back end and a top light with a day/night option.
About 2.5 inches of gravel
1 live plant
1 Betta Bulb (live plant)
1 fake plastic plant
A porcelain piggy bank with a sign saying WELCOME TO LAS VEGAS - that I bought online from a site that said it was safe for aquariums.
1 horizontal glass heater
1 filter that hangs off the back of the tank (I had to make a barrier with a plastic bottle because the current was too strong for little man to swim around, so it displaces the water and softens the current)

About 2 weeks in the new tank I noticed the live plant was getting slimy so I took it out and tossed it. The Betta Bulb sprouted and turned slimy as well so I took it out and tossed it too. I then bought a new tank decoration from PetSmart and 3 more plastic plants, as well as a floating Betta Log. He really seemed to like the new additions, he swam in and out of the log, would rest in the plants, and also sleep behind the new decoration in the evenings. Vegas and I really had a good routine, and we seemed like things were going pretty decent. This brings us to about Mid-May, so Vegas was about 6 wks into his journey with me and my lack of knowledge.

So here is where the decline starts: near the end of May I saw that Vegas had a small circular hole at the lower tip of his back fin. Within days the hole opened and it was what appeared as a small tear. Then I noticed a thinning spot on the lower part of his top fin. It became a hole within a few more days and I new I had a problem. I am unsure about this but I noticed that his bottom fin had red streaks (they may have been there from the very start, but I don't remember them.) It didn't look inflamed, it just looked like a part of his coloring. But I'm unsure about whether they play a part in all of this or not. Other than these two things, the holes and the possible red streaks in his fins he was totally normal.

So I was reading in my book and online, around the beginning of June my conclusion was Fin Rot, which I initially was going to treat with some liquid that PetSmart recommended to me (Shame, I thought I'd learned my lesson.) But after googling it, I found that it apparently can actually kill Betta's because it creates a film on the top of the water and they can't get through for air. So I returned that and then purchased Maracyn 1 & 2 after reading up a bit on it. I used them both together for 5 days per the instructions on the package. When I started the medication the top fin hole was a long thin strip maybe a little longer than a 1/2in & another one was beginning on the lower fin in the middle. By day 3 the hole in the top fin had closed up & the thinning patch on the back fin was gone. He seemed a bit depressed because by day 5 the water was pretty murky & he wasn't swimming around too much, but I did the full 5 days and thought everything was fine.

I had previously been doing a 25-30% water change about every 2 weeks or so. His water always looks pretty clean and I figured that since it's one little fish in a 10gl tank that this was okay. I also took in a water sample to have it tested at PetSmart and was told it was in good condition with nothing showing up to be concerned about, they recommended the aquarium salt to help Vegas "in general", whatever that means. (I know that I probably shouldn't trust them, but I don't really know where to start when it comes to monitoring water conditions... So I just figured hopefully they do know at least this portion of advice that I'm taking from them..) I did a 50% water change 2 days after I finished the medications and added a tablespoon of aquarium salt, and did another one about 3 days later to start clearing up his water with another 2 teaspoons of aquarium salt. I put his filter back in after the second water change and we seemed like we were on the track to healthy success.

I dropped his food to two pellets in the am in fear of over feeding. For about another week everything seemed good, but then near the end of June I noticed he was hiding a lot. He wouldn't come to the front of the tank except for in the morning to eat. He was staying in the back corner and seemed to be kind of losing his vibrant coloring. I started up my research once again, but there were just so many possibilities. :"( I really felt in over my head. I thought maybe he wasn't happy with his filter and the light current, so I turned the filter off for 2 days and decided to fast him for 3 days thinking maybe it was constipation.

Last week I came home late in the evening and he was suspended mid way in his tank right below his log. He wouldn't move and I really thought he was dead. I was so upset and ran to get my boyfriend. I really wanted to give this poor guy a chance but now he looked dead. I was in tears and my boyfriend came and told me he tapped on the glass and Vegas darted in a circle very erratically and then dropped to the bottom in this U shape seemingly limp, BUT STILL ALIVE! I went and looked and he was alive, if you can call it that. He was sideways at the bottom and just looked so miserable. He looked at me so sad and I know he was just begging me not to give up on him.

The next day (I think the 1st of July) he was still at the bottom of the tank, it didn't seem like he was really able to get to the top for air. His color has continued to drain, he's almost grey from loss of color on his body, his fins are still blue, but much darker as opposed to the bright royal blue he was originally. I set-up the original 3 gallon tank with about 1 gallon of conditioned water and a teaspoon of aquarium salt and put the heater in there. It's shallow for him so he can swim easily to the top and get air. I fasted him for 3 days, and am now giving him 1 piece of food every other day, and changing his water every 3 days (100% change of 1 gallon conditioned water with 1 teaspoon aquarium salt). He is still eating, but seems very uninterested and it takes some urging to get him up to the top to eat. Basically he just lays sideways at the bottom of the tank only coming up for air when he has to. Sometimes his back end seems like it's floating up and he's almost face down tail up (vertical), other times he is back in that limp U shape, most the time he is semi-sideways on the bottom. I don't know what normal breathing is supposed to look like, but if I could describe it it seems like he is taking deep short breaths?! When he swims it's spastic and erratic, like he can't control where or how he is swimming. He doesn't move often, seems miserable. In the last two days he's been staying very close to the heater (his water is staying around 80 degrees).

I know that this is insanely long. If anyone has made it through the entire thread and has any advice at all.. I just want to try to save him. Any tips will help. I'm sure I've made several mistakes, but I am hoping that I can save him and learn how to care for him properly. Thank you in advance to anyone who has read this and can give any advice.
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Old 07-07-2012, 10:17 PM   #2 
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Hello and Welcome, I did read the post, and first of all, I just want to say Thanks for saving the lil guy, and for the time you took do all the research to help him, you are on the right track in all that you have been doing, using the Aq salt is one of the best rememdies to help with fin tear/rot, and sounds like all went well, if he is swimming erracticly..and staying vertical, I am not sure but it could be "Dropsy" I have heard of this, but don't know much about it, I would look into some symptoms for it, if in the book..and try to treat for it, but at the same time, if you can load a pic, and or video of some kind so we can see exactly what your fishy looks like, and see how he swims, and then we can give better advice.. there is a member here on the forum, who is an expert in fish diagnoses, and treatment..her name is Old Fish Lady..OFL for can PM her and she will tell you exactly what to do.. I sure hope you can get some help for your lil guy!!
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Old 07-07-2012, 10:20 PM   #3 
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And, you may need to move him to a Hospital tank for treatment, so he can get to the surface for a Kritter keeper, a 1.75 gal works great for that, keep the water level low..It's hard at first, but easier to treat, and perform water changes.
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Old 07-08-2012, 01:42 AM   #4 
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Stop the aquarium salt! The aquarium salt should only be used for 10 days, otherwise it can be harmful to their internal organs. I know they say to use it, and that was one of my first questions on this forum, and I got a big NO, not unless you're treating for disease.

Also, I had a bad reaction to a combination of AQ salt and coppersafe, so I'm not sure that all medications can be used safely with AQ salt. (use one or the other, but not both together)

Also, I'd feed him more unless he looks bloated. Those little New Life Spectrum pellets are *so* tiny that my guys eat, well...I'll admit it...lots of them... (I don't count...I just put some in as they gobble down...) and make sure they don't look bloated. If he's sick, he needs food to heal (unless he's bloated, and then withhold food).

Every 3 days in a 1 gallon is okay, but every other day would be better. Whatever is going on with him clean fresh water is going to help, no matter what.

In addition to OFL, you can also try PM'ing Sakura8, she's good too. :)

I hope he recovers for you!! You've obviously put a lot of time and effort into his care and setup, and it sounds like he's had a great life with you until just recently. :( Poor little guy. Prayers for you both!
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Old 07-08-2012, 02:16 PM   #5 
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Thank you for the responses! Here are three photos of him and his "Hospital Tank".. I hope I got that right. It's only his heater and thermometer and some stones at the bottom. (All smooth so he can't hurt himself, if he wanted to..)

I was unable to get a video of him... He is not up for swimming right now. But he did seem more balanced this morning when I saw him go from one side of the tank to the other.

@Blue Fish: I have only used the Aquarium Salt a few times. In the 10 gallon tank I added salt 3 times, spread out over his normal water changes.. So probably over a 4 wk period (The two times after I used the Maracyn 1&2, and then 1 other time when I did a 30% water changes about two weeks after that). And I only added about 1 tsp the 3rd time to 3 gallons of water. In the hospital tank we have done 2 100% water changes with 1tsp of the Aquarium Salt in 1 gallon of water over a period of 6 days. Is this too much?

Also with feeding, I read that you shouldn't give them more than 2-3 pieces a day.. Is this wrong? (Yikes, so much I don't know!! LoL!)

Thank you both for responding. I will get in touch with both OFL and Sakura8. Hope the pictures help some, they aren't the best.. I watch him more to see if I can get some more of him changing positions.

Thank you!!!
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Old 07-08-2012, 02:33 PM   #6 
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Welcome to the forum and sorry your new Betta isn't doing so well....

It sounds like you are doing your best.....Good that you moved him to the smaller tank with a lower water level without any filtration/water movement....

Some of what is going on....sadly sounds a bit like he is aging out-then with the added issues of long term water quality before you got him.....Sometimes all we can do is provide comfort care, however, we don't want to give up too soon either....these guys can really surprise us sometimes.....

What I would recommend right now....get him out of the aquarium salt and any other medication and start Epsom salt and tannin treatment.....

I don't recommend any 100% water changes at this stage.

Premix the treatment water to use for water changes in a 1gal jug of dechlorinated water-Add Epsom salt 2tsp/gal and a Tannin source if you have one-either IAL (1lrg crushed/gal) or Oak leaf (20 crushed/gal)
Let this steep for 30min to dissolve the Epsom salt and tannin to start releasing....Shake well before use...

Using this premixed treatment water make 25% water changes every 15min for 1 hour today....This will get him acclimated to the new chemistry and start the treatment.

Tomorrow-start 50% daily water changes using the premixed treatment water. If you used a tannin source the water should look darker every day and this is what you want.

He need to stay in the small QT in the treatment water for the duration of the treatment.

Since he is in sodium chloride water already-what I would do to get the treatment started so not to over stress him too much...

I would find a small container to place him in that holds about 4 cups of water-dump half out-then add half cup of the treatment water every 15min-then remove half and repeat until he is in 100% of the treatment water.
Then dump the 3gal you had him in-rinse and fill with the premixed treatment water to about 3 inches deep-and slowly release him in this.
Cover the top with plastic veggie wrap to help retain the heat/humidity over the water for his labyrinth organ-turn off the light-place him a dim lit quiet location. If you have a soft plant to float in the tank or something-add this to help make him feel more secure.

Water temp 77-78F...not over 80F if possible....

Tannins source-IAL (Indian almond leaf) usually you have to get this online
What I use-Oak leaf from my Oak trees in my yard....collect naturally dried and fallen from the tree Oak leaf.
If you don't have access to either of these-you can use decaf green or black tea, however, they won't contain the antibacterial/fungal properties like the IAL or Oak leaf due to processing....but the tanned water will help stress.

Nutrition-if you have access to mosquito larva offer several rinsed several times a day.....Or offer good quality varied diet fed in small frequent meals-Nutrition is really important-if he want to eat feed him....but don't overfeed processed food.

Good luck and keep us posted.....
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Old 07-08-2012, 02:44 PM   #7 
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Raise the water level an inch if u fed him flakes only fed him 2 a day twice a day fed him pelts 3 a day resherch betta fish temps see what it sould be and see
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Old 07-08-2012, 03:01 PM   #8 
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This is the other position I was describing (Only here, he is head up tail down vertical) - lying against the heater.

@ OFL: THANK YOU FOR YOUR RESPONSE!! *Heavy long sigh after reading all of that* I am going to read this about 20 times and then figure out what I have already, and what I need to go out and get. Oh boy, rescuing cats is much easier than rescuing fish! I am so in over my head, but think I can handle this. I'll get back to you on how he's doing, and hopefully you won't mind if I have a thousand questions! :")

A part of me did think it might be due to age, and if this is the case, then all I can do is give this guy all the love I can. But I will continue to try anything I can (and within my meager budget!!), to help this guy thrive and enjoy his life.

Thank you!!
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Old 07-08-2012, 07:46 PM   #9 
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Hi LilMzGypsy and welcome to the forum. OFL has got you pretty well-covered. :) I agree that it sounds like the process of aging and his time of neglect catching up with him.

Whatever happens though, he is in awesome good care and it's wonderful that he can spend the rest of his days in clean water with so much love. You're doing a great job.

PS, if you need IAL, you can always PM me and I'd be happy to mail you some.
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Old 07-08-2012, 07:59 PM   #10 
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Good luck to you, if he is just getting older, I'm sure he's glad to have known such a good and caring owner for part of his life. :)
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advice, help me, loss of color, not swimming, sick betta

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